Book that claims to be about startup growth, but is really the story of the rise and fall of the author’s own company. After seeing his coworkers struggle to find dates online, he quit his job at Lehman Brothers to start an online dating company. In the early stages, especially since the product relies heavily on network effects, it’s crucial to focus on the growth strategy — it’s not enough to have slightly better features than the competition, but you must have some killer feature that makes it 10x easier to do something.
The growth was slow at first, but exploded once the author realized the potential of the Facebook ecosystem to leverage online dating within your social network. This was one of the first apps on Facebook, and they quickly gained a lot of traction and raised a lot of money. However, they were unable to keep innovating and made some questionable decisions, like switching to a subscription-based model, so that their primary differentiator was they were the only paid online dating platform in a sea of free ones. Their user share steadily declined until Tinder exploded in popularity, at which point the author decided to launch a spin-off product to compete with Tinder.
The story is an interesting one, but the book doesn’t provide many insightful takeaways, and I’m not convinced that the author’s success can be replicated. The “explosive growth tips” only provide a shallow analysis of their decisions, when there are actually deep and complex tradeoffs involved. For example, he regrets in hindsight not taking investment from billionaires, and simply concludes to “always say yes to a billionaire”. It is especially frustrating in the latter half of the book when the company is clearly failing, yet the author refuses to admit it, and non-ironically pushes trivialities onto his employees, like the “anniversary stapler”.